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Read quite an interesting article today about how most young Indians see Kasab’s death row verdict. I would have enjoyed reading the otherwise long, rambling post if only it wasn’t for the writer’s frequent misuse of the word “hung” for “hanged”. A friend even commented asking about how posts like this get published on news pages without basic editing!

But then I wouldn’t blame the writer alone because since the verdict went public, a lot of people are making the mistake, journalists and readers alike, and I thought it was time I set it right.

So, hanged and hung are both past forms of the verb “hang”. The difference is, “hung” is used for something and “hanged” is used for someone. Let’s be more specific, ok?

“Hung” is when something has been put up and it stays in that position for a significantly noticeable time.

You hung the photo of the Queen on your wall last summer, didn’t you?

“Hanged” is used when a person is sentenced to death by a noose tightened around his neck when there is no support for his legs, and his corpse will be taken off the rope as soon as he is dead.

The guilty is to be hanged till death, the court decided.

If you were to look for a clearer way to explain the difference, you would say:

It would be fitting if Kasab is hanged to death and then his corpse is hung at the India Gate as a warning to future terrorists.

You get the difference? When we use “hanged” in the first part of the sentence, Kasab is still a living man, and later, it’s his corpse, a thing. He will be hanged only till he dies, but there is no limit on the time for which his body can be hung and used as a warning.

She may want to see me hanged for saying this, but this post should be framed and hung on the article writer’s wall!

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